Obama Confirms Door Is Open for Prosecution of Authors of Torture Memos

The President hasn’t expressed objection to subjecting senior officials to investigation.

Photo courtesy of President Obama from WDCPIX

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This story first appeared on ProPublica.org.

Last week, we noted that while the administration promised not to prosecute CIA interrogators who acted within the legal limits laid out by the now-released “torture memos,” it made no such promise for the Justice Department lawyers behind the memos. In remarks to reporters today, President Barack Obama reiterated his promise and more clearly suggested that the lawyers who signed off could face legal consequences.

When the memos were released last week, the administration was silent about consequences for the Office of Legal Counsel officials who gave authoritative advice to counterterrorism agencies in those years. Much of that advice was repudiated, in waning months, by the Bush Office of Legal Counsel itself as “not sustainable,” “doubtful,” “not supported by convincing reasoning,” “highly questionable,” “not satisfactory,” “unpersuasive” and/or simply “incorrect.”

Today, the president reiterated that prosecution “would not be appropriate” for interrogators “who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House,” according to the Washington Post.

But Obama expressed no such opposition to subjecting senior officials to investigation or prosecution. While maintaining his general caution against “getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively,” he declined to reject the notion of congressional investigations or criminal prosecution.

“With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general,” he said. If there is going to be “a further accounting,” Congress might consider a bipartisan or independent commission, he suggested.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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